Meeting new emissions rules ‘almost impossible’, say manufacturers

December 12, 2016

Carmakers say they do not have enough time to meet the next stage of EU emissions test reforms coming in in September 2017. 

This is despite carmakers having known about the standards set in the new real driving emissions (RDE) test since 2010, when the standards were enforced by laboratory tests rather than real-world driving. 

Manufacturers blame the constraints of parliamentary deliberation in Brussels, which means that formal publication of the legislation will take place as late as May 2017, which they say gives them ‘only a few months to comply’. 

ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert says: ‘This regulatory uncertainty simply leaves too little time for manufacturers to make the necessary changes to the design of vehicles, engines, exhaust systems and assembly lines.' 

This move by the ACEA seems like a delaying tactic. Carmakers have known about the standards for more than six years now since they came in in 2010. The publication in May 2017 is unlikely to bring any significant surprises – else the deadline would not have been set for September. Furthermore, the major hardware changes do not come in until 2020, so the arguments put forward by the ACEA seem to be based on thin ground. 

In addition, lobby group Transport & Environment (T&E) have pointed out that there can be no reason why technology should cause further delays, because carmakers already have to meet strict emission laws in the US, much tougher than those in the EU. 

In the US, most car manufacturers achieve this with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, but in the EU, where tests and limits are more lax, the same cars are instead fitted with cheaper, less effective NOx traps. T&E estimate that the additional cost for using SCR is €100 to €300 per car; the ACEA itself estimates that meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard costs carmakers around €1,800 per car, so adding on the cost of SCR is not out of the question. 

For used cars, the RDE could mean about 30% of Europe’s ageing car parc having to be removed from the roads. This could boost both new and used car sales, as drivers upgrade to newer vehicles. 

Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating woes continue as the German regulators’ emissions probe widens to Porsche, after the German Transportation Ministry was tipped off that some Porsche cars can detect whether they are in test conditions based on the lack of steering wheel movement during operation. 

In the UK, medical professionals have formed the campaign group Doctors Against Diesel to pressure the government to ban all diesel cars from London, with air pollution causing 9,400 premature deaths a year.

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